Trio of brainy best friends off to study at UC Davis

Charlotte and friends in a tunnel they found along Hwy 1Outdoorsy Carmel High seniors Charlotte Anderle, Maisie Kise and Carli Hambley have never been afraid of a good adventure together. San Luis Obispo, Ventana Wilderness, Sobrantes—no peak is too high or beach too far. Now, the three are heading on a new, grander voyage: they’re all headed to the University of California at Davis together.

Despite the ideal conclusion to their college search, for a time it looked as though the three top-decile students—none has received a less than an A- in any course in high school—were parting ways, with Anderle heading to Davis and Kise and Hambley heading elsewhere.

“For the longest time I was convinced, because I’m from the East Coast, that I wanted [to attend] one of those brick buildings at a very prestigious private school,” Kise says.

After being accepted to many schools, Kise was faced with a tough choice: Wesleyan University, an archetypal, well-revered east coast liberal arts school, versus Davis, a school she applied to on a whim. Yet that whim turned into an eventual passion for the school, with Kise choosing Davis in the five minutes before her decision was due.

“In the last six months I’ve become so much more nature-oriented and so much more pro-California,” Kise says of her decision.

Hambley faced a similarly difficult decision, which put Carnegie Mellon’s expensive yet world-renowned engineering program against Davis, a school that wasn’t even her first choice. For her, Davis beat the debt.

Despite their winding road to college acceptance, the multi-faceted achievers are happy they each eventually chose Davis and its acclaimed natural science programs.

“[Davis is] ranked as the number one viticulture school in the country, which is what Charlotte wants to study,” CHS counselor Darren Johnston says. “Where [Davis] really earns its pay would be specifically botany, agriculture, viticulture and any kind of life science.”

These academic strengths suit the group well, as Hambley and Anderle are co-presidents of the Environmental Club and Kise is vice president.

“We can speak about all three of them and say the very same thing,” says Jason Maas-Baldwin, who teaches the three in AP Environmental Science and is one of the advisors of the Environmental Club. “It’s pretty rare amongst high school students that they have such passion for making a difference, but then they actually are good at taking that passion and putting it into concrete steps.”

This passion has literally been put into concrete steps. Under their leadership, the architects of CHS’s new green science wing are more heavily factoring in student environmental concerns into their plans.

Maas-Baldwin notes the girls also started a compost system on campus and were the main motivators on the Ocean Guardian grant, which ultimately led to filtered water and stainless steel water bottles for students on campus.

This trailblazing spirit carries over to their plans for attendance at Davis.

Anderle, who was accepted into the Integrated Studies Honors program, plans to study winemaking, while Hambley, also accepted into the program, plans on starting with sustainable food and agriculture and expanding from there.

Kise, on the other hand, may not even go to Davis in 2013, as she has applied to a gap-year program called Global Citizen Year.

Additionally, the three aren’t planning to room together next year.

“I’m not worried about [branching out] at all,” Hambley says. “They’re going to be in a lot of things I like [at Davis], but that doesn’t bother me. It’s not like, ‘I’m going to follow Maisie and do this, I’m going to follow Charlotte and do this.’”

Using their college years as a springboard, the girls have diverse goals for their careers. Neither Hambley nor Kise has a definite plan for the future, but both can see themselves teaching sustainable farming at some point. Characteristically, Anderle, living up to her self-described role as “the mom of the group,” has a clear idea of where she is going after Davis.

“I want to be a winemaker,” Anderle says. “It’s a continuation of everything that I love. It’s also dependent on weather and seasons and just the soil and the sun. It feels like it’s something really real.”

The friends’ lives are about to dovetail in some respects and diverge in others, but at the end of the day, no matter where they end up, they know they’ll always be able to connect through nature, the force that brought them together in the first place.

“We always pick doing something outside instead of sitting at home. Always,” Anderle says. “Whether it’s slack-lining or driving to Arroyo Seco or attempting to surf or anything, everyone’s always down.”

It doesn’t look like that’ll be changing any time soon.

-JOSH MARCUS